Bharatanatyam Arangetram: A Milestone in the Journey of a Bharatanatyam Dancer

bharatanatyam arangetram

Arangetram is a Sanskrit word that literally translates to “ascending the stage.” In the world of Bharatanatyam, it refers to the debut performance of a dancer, marking the completion of their training and the beginning of their career as a professional dancer. The length of a Bharatanatyam Arangetram can vary depending on the dancer and the choreography, but typically, it lasts for approximately two to three hours.

What happens at an Arangetram?

An Arangetram is a significant event in the life of a Bharatanatyam dancer, as it marks the end of their training and the beginning of their career. It is a showcase of the dancer’s skills and the culmination of years of hard work and dedication.

The Arangetram typically begins with a traditional invocation to the Hindu gods and goddesses, followed by a series of dance pieces that showcase the dancer’s skills and mastery of the Bharatanatyam style. These pieces can include solo performances, group performances, and classical Indian stories brought to life through dance.

Throughout the performance, the dancer displays their mastery of various techniques, including facial expressions, hand gestures, footwork, and body movements. The dancer’s abilities to express emotion, convey stories, and captivate the audience with their grace and beauty are put on full display during the Arangetram.

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In addition to the dance performance, an Arangetram often includes introductions by the dancer’s guru or teacher, family, and friends, as well as performances by musical accompanists, such as singers and instrumentalists. The Arangetram is a celebration of the dancer’s achievements and a testament to the hard work and dedication required to become a professional Bharatanatyam dancer.

The sequence of dances in a Bharatanatyam Arangetram is as follows:

  • Pushpanjali: The performance starts with a dance called the Pushpanjali, which is a symbol of respect and offers flowers and salutations to Hindu deities, the guru, and the audience.
  • Alarippu: The performance may also begin with a rhythmic invocation called the Alarippu. It is a pure dance that combines gratitude and benediction to the gods and goddesses, the guru, and the performance team. 
  • Jatiswaram: The Jatiswaram is the next stage of the performance, where melody is added to the movement. It is a preliminary technical performance without any expressed words, where the dancer presents the unity of music, rhythm, and movements.
  • Shabdam: The Shabdam is the stage where expressions are introduced. The solo dancer, vocalist, and musical team present short compositions with words and meaning in a spectrum of moods. This introduces lyrical expression(Sahitya-abhinaya) into the recital.
  • Varnam: The Varnam showcases the dancer’s mastery of the various aspects of Bharatanatyam, including rhythm, technique, and expression, and typically features intricate and fast-paced footwork, intricate hand gestures, and expressive facial expressions. The Varnam is typically performed to a Carnatic music composition and is considered the centerpiece of the Arangetram performance.
  • Padam: In an Arangetram performance, a Padam is usually performed as one of the several pieces to showcase the dancer’s skills and mastery of the dancer to display the supreme power of imagination. The Padam is the stage of reverence, where the dance becomes emotional and expresses a devotional religious prayer. The music is lighter and the dance is more intimate, expressing rasa (emotional taste) and mood.
  • Tillana: The performance ends with a Tillana, a joyful, swift and energetic concluding section of the recital. 
  • Shlokam or Mangalam: The final item in the sequence may be either a Shlokam or a Mangalam. The dancer calls for blessings on everyone.

The significance of the Arangetram in the world of Bharatanatyam cannot be overstated. It is a rite of passage, marking the transition from student to professional and solidifying the dancer’s place in the Bharatanatyam community. The dancer’s guru, family, and friends, as well as members of the Bharatanatyam community, will be in attendance to show their support and to celebrate the dancer’s accomplishments.

In conclusion, the Bharatanatyam Arangetram is a milestone in the journey of a Bharatanatyam dancer. It is a celebration of the dancer’s skills and achievements, and a testament to their hard work, dedication, and passion for this beautiful art form. Whether you are a dancer, a music lover, or simply interested in experiencing the beauty of Bharatanatyam, attending an Arangetram is an unforgettable experience that you won’t want to miss.

Read our blog on the benefits of joining Bharatanatyam dance class.

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What is the Arangetram ceremony?

The Arangetram ceremony is a formal celebration of the debut performance of a Bharatanatyam dancer. It is a showcase of the dancer’s skills, dedication and hard work and is considered a rite of passage in their dance education.

What is Arangetram in Bharatanatyam?

Arangetram in Bharatanatyam is a public debut performance by a student who has completed their training in Bharatanatyam, one of the classical dances of India. The Arangetram is a formal showcase of the dancer’s skills, knowledge, and mastery of the dance form.

How long does Arangetram last?

The length of an Arangetram performance can vary but usually lasts between 2 to 4 hours, including multiple dance pieces and an intermission. It is an elaborate and formal performance showcasing the dancer’s mastery of the dance form.

What gifts do you give for arangetram?

It is common to give gifts to the performer at an Arangetram, a traditional dance recital in Bharatanatyam dance. Some popular gift ideas include:

  • Jewelry: A piece of jewelry, such as a traditional dance pendant or bangle, can symbolize the dancer’s achievement.
  • Books: A book on Bharatanatyam, Indian classical dance, or a related subject can be a meaningful and educational gift.

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